What kind of community are we?
This week the internet has been lit up with local, regional and national headlines of growing distrust, fear, and social protests rooted in racial tensions. In 13 states, the National Guard has already been mobilized to keep the peace in increasingly inflamed neighborhoods. We are living in a time in which the color of one’s skin can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Here in Escanaba, it’s tempting to believe we are immune to these social expressions of unrest. We are in a beautiful community full of wonderful people. Sometimes I hear people around our community saying things like “We have evolved, things like that [racial abuses] don’t happen anymore, I don’t see skin color”. Is it possible, however, that just because we haven’t personally experienced hatred and violence on the basis of our own skin color that it doesn’t exist?
Our country has a history of harming people of color: Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latin X Americans, and non-Nordic Euro-American immigrants to name a few. Are we passed this place in our collective evolution? Has color privilege completely disappeared? Has privilege based on class, education, or gender completely vanished?
When it comes to privilege what kind of community are we? When I read the national news, I see acts of violence against people of color by law enforcement officers. It makes me wonder how our law enforcement officers are treating Native American, African American, Latin X and Asian Americans in Delta County. Do our officers treat people of all ethnicities the same way?
I admire law enforcement officers and appreciate the difficult job they have . Are we supporting them in a way that helps them cope with the horrors they see working with angry, desperate, and traumatized people so that they can treat people with respect?
Outside of law enforcement, what kind of community are we? Are we a welcoming community or are we a community that harms people of color? Do we remain silent when we see people of color discriminated against, harassed, harmed by people in our community? When we talk about racial discrimination are we so committed to our truth that we can’t see the truth about the lives of others? Do we use our voice and influence to support someone who is living with racism in our community? Do we think that because we live in a predominately white community that we can’t be racist?
The truth is, I have heard about experiences of racial discrimination of people living right here. It breaks my heart. I feel ashamed, angry and sad. What are we doing about it?
Fortunately, we have many resources (books, podcasts, websites, etc) that can assist each of us in healing the divisions between and among community members. In these times, we all need to work towards being part of the solution.
Our children are watching us, what are we teaching them? Let’s teach love, kindness, respect and compassion — not pre-judging people based on the color of their skin.
Debra G Nedeau